There’s an old Wife story about “spiney.” I think we were visiting with my dad one afternoon, probably a Sunday afternoon because I recall there being ham and beans in the large pot simmering on the range. That means the weather was cool and there was probably football to watch, back in the days when I watched professional sports. (I loved watching football games with dad.)
Wife remarked something about my few-day-old stubble and couldn’t think of an appropriate descriptor. Somehow or another, she managed to say something about me being “spiney,” and it came out unintentionally.
Of course, dad picked it up and ran with it, much to the embarrassment of Wife. That was another great laugh and a great Wife story.
We were hiking on the Riverview Park trails a week or so ago and came across a patch of cockleburs. When I saw them, several thoughts ran through my mind in quick succession.
“Boy, I’m glad that the Girl didn’t get into those! Even with her short fur, she’d be an unhappy Girl when I had to pull them from fur, ears, and feet.”
“Boy, I’m sure glad I didn’t get into those. They’d be a bitch to get out of my socks!”
“I sure got into a lot of those back in Missouri, particularly when squirrel hunting in the fall. They were a bitch to get out of my clothes and are spiney as hell!”
“Those might make an interesting photograph. I’d better make one.”
At that, I pulled up the Panasonic Lumix G3 and got to work. I happened to have the Wollensak 25mm f/1.9 cine lens on the camera. It has an interesting, if a bit busy, bokeh.
Although I was very distracted by project work today, I had time to think about Wife and remember her birthday. She would have been 65-years old today and we would have had a grand time celebrating the day. I would have given her quite a hard time about “robbing the cradle” as well.
The Girl is home now and recovering. She had a rough couple of days, which required spending some time in hospital.
I noticed last Thursday that she seemed off. She didn’t eat her breakfast, which is not completely unusual, but relative rare. Then while I was in a meeting, she vomited some grass she had eaten. Again, that was not completely unusual, if relatively rare. (She is a grazer and usually just passes the grass.)
Friday she again acted oddly, not wanting her breakfast although we had a nice walk. I noticed that she didn’t seem interested in food or water as well. I worried over her much of the night and she asked to go out several times.
Saturday morning she seemed lethargic and uninterested in much. When offered a walk, we went part way (just a hundred yards or so) before she expelled a very watery stool. She refused water when I offered it, licking a little from my fingers but refusing to drink.
I called the vet and took her in to the urgent care clinic. He checked her over, found nothing obvious, and recommended supportive care and some testing.
I left her in his care. When he called later in the day, he reported that she had an ileus with a lot of inflammation and bloating. He would continue supportive care, hoping the hydration would reduce the inflammation and restore some of the function of her gastrointestinal tract. I could tell he was really concerned for her.
Sunday he called with news that there was some improvement, but that she was still not eating, lethargic, and not interested in water (of course not, with the hydration). That evening I called and he reported that she had eaten a little, the inflammation was down quite a lot, and there was no physical blockage.
Monday she was much improved, eating a little and happy. By the afternoon he indicated that supportive care was no longer needed and that she should come home. That made me very happy. So I retrieved the Girl and brought her home.
But I learned she was still very sick. I coaxed her into drinking water by adding a little juice from a can of chicken to it. I also convinced her to eat a little by adding some canned food to her kibbles (or rather, some kibbles to canned food) and adding a little chicken juice to that). She slept the rest of the day and much of Tuesday.
But Tuesday evening she asked for food and I noticed that she had taken water from her bowl. So I fed her (sweetening the kibbles again) and refilled her water bowl. Tuesday night she wanted to sleep with me again. But OMG was she noxious! Whatever was disturbing her system made some very nasty gas!
And then this morning she acted much better. She again asked for food and to go out. After I fed myself, she asked to go walk. So I took her out to Riverview Park for a walk. The park is still in rough condition, but it’s walkable. There is less risk of her picking up some toxin out there, at least in my opinion.
I think there is a good chance she picked up a toxin while we walked here in town. Perhaps one of the lawns was treated with pesticide or herbicide. Perhaps another animal was sick. But my suspicion is that she picked up something on our walks. Therefore, I’m going to be more careful with where we go and what she nibbles on.
It was a rough couple of weeks for the Girl (and of course for me was well). She healed quickly after her surgery. Yes, the mass was a soft tissue sarcoma, but it was low grade and the margins were clear. She has a 15-percent chance of recurrence. I’ll take it.
I made the image on the day we returned so her sutures could be removed. I can do it, but the clinic gets pissy about it if I do. [Heh…] Her wounds were healing nicely and we were released to normal activity again.
However, that afternoon she seemed sick. Her symptoms were coughing and gagging and she ate more grass than usual. I was concerned.
She was not better the next day, refused to go walk, didn’t want any food, and seemed really off. So I called the vet and we returned for the urgent-care clinic that evening (at 1600h).
The vet found nothing obviously wrong and gave me a plethora of diagnosis/treatment options. I elected to go with some supportive care, left the Girl there, and returned to pick her up later in the evening.
She seemed better that Friday (a week ago), so I thought we had passed the worst of it. However, over the weekend I noticed she still wasn’t acting normal. Something was just off.
I struggled with the decision to return to the vet for another visit. It was partly cost and partly the uncertainty that anything definitive would be determined. I hate spending money on medical care with a null outcome. (I have a long history of spending money on medical care with no outcome.) So I thought I’d wait until the weekend passed and see if her condition changed.
Monday came and she refused to walk again. We walked to the mailbox and back, then I drove us up to the old orphanage and we walked the site. She was not feeling well. She kept me up most of the night wanting to go out and just feeling miserable. But, early in the morning she vomited up a bone shard (that I had not seen her eat) about the size of a half-dollar coin.
I thought that might be the problem. So I decided to wait until after the 4th of July holiday to see if another vet call was required.
By Wednesday she was her usual self once again — pestering me to go walkies, asking for play, asking for treats, eating normally, and generally being the pain-in-the-ass that I love.
Her wounds are mostly healed. The rough patches of scar tissue receded. Her fur is growing back (what little of it there is), albeit slowly. She is back to telling me what I want, once again, like most of the women in my life.
It was a rough few weeks. It was horribly expensive, in terms of money, time, and energy. But my constant companion is healthy and happy again. Life is good.
On many mornings, we walk past the building that houses Nevada Department of Environmental Protection, among others. The structure is rather striking from the old state school property, where we meet other doggies and chase ground squirrels.
On our way home, particularly on warm days, The Girl puts on quite a show on the grass landscaping outside the building. Our antics brighten a lot of mornings for folks outside for a walk or a smoke. I hear them chuckle and see them smile at our interaction and her crazy love of the cool grass and shade.
This is a good thing. I like this part of the route quite a lot.
A couple of mornings ago I opened the inside door to let in some morning sun. The Girl immediately gravitated toward the warmth. (She was putting some not-so-subtle pressure on me to go on walkies.) The pose demanded an image.
Although she still looks a bit Frankensteinish, her wounds are healing nicely and the sutures will be removed tomorrow. They don’t seem to bother her and she leaves them alone. She’s really very easy to care for, unlike me.
Although I haven’t written in quite a while, it isn’t that I haven’t thought about it. I suppose I was in something of a slump, not making photographs and not doing much writing. Travel was hard and there is quite a lot of work at the moment.
In May it was time for The Girl’s annual. I had questions about some lumps and bumps that I felt on/under her skin. As Doc worked through her regular review, he decided to biopsy a couple of her lumps. The one on her left hip was particularly concerning to him.
He put the sample on a slide and checked it under the microscope. He called it a “Round Cell Tumor” and indicated that is is malignant, although the opinion of a pathologist would be required to confirm that diagnosis. So she was scheduled for a bit more than her usual skin treatment. The work was done yesterday.
She was whiny and clingy last night (can’t really blame her) but is back to herself today. We have not played rowdy because she’s on restricted duty until her wounds knit. A pathology report will be provided next week after the laboratory has time to process the tumor. Hopefully, the margins will be clear and she will be fine.
Today, Wife would have been 64-years old. She’s been gone for three years and change. Rarely does a day pass when her memory does not arise, often in the context of an event I think she would have like, a sight she would have enjoyed, or a song we shared.
I still miss her and think I always will. As I wander my way back toward Nevada, there are times when I think “Wife would have enjoyed that…” in the context of something I see or hear. The thought occurred to me yesterday when I was driving through Glenwood Canyon on my way to Grand Junction, Colorado. The light played on the rocks in the afternoon fall sun. The way the rocks were illuminated was interesting and we would have shared that sight.
Birthday celebrations are supposed to be happy affairs. I think when I settle in for the evening, I’ll raise a glass of wine to the east and salute Wife, her life, and her love. Happy Birthday, Wife!
Yesterday, the Girl and I were up really early to walk. She had a appointment with her veterinarian to have some lesions removed from her tummy. Because of her light skin, she is susceptible to skin cancer. Moreover, she’s my “sun baby,” and would choose to lie in the sun on her side and soak up that heat.
Because of our current lifestyle, she doesn’t do that anymore. We’re together all the time and often busy or driving. So she doesn’t have the same leisure time to ask to go outdoors and lie in the sun. But, she still has a few lesions popping up. Perhaps this year there will be fewer of them. I can hope.
So, after our walk, we drove back to the hotel so I could shower and gather up a few things. Then we headed for Minden and the vet’s office. I weighed her, signed in, and the staff put me in an examination room. Dr. Ross wanted to talk to me.
He looked her over and told me I could either wait or get a cup of coffee. He didn’t expect the procedure to take long (none of her spots were very big this time), so I left and decided to get a bite of breakfast.
For many years, Danny’s Diner (which was a Denny’s before I moved to Nevada) was a place I visited regularly, but not frequently. Wife and I loved to stop there when we were running errands for a bite. I just loved to spend such times with Wife. But Danny’s finally closed with the downturn in the economy (which hurt Nevada particularly badly) and I thought the facility would remain empty. But on my return to Nevada, I found a new place had opened.
So Thursday morning I drove from the vet’s to Independence Diner. It is really much like it was, but with a new menu and new staff. The staff are all friendly and the give-and-take between them bespeaks a friendly working environment. This is a good thing.
I ordered café con crema y agua, then repeated myself in ingles. I’m still practicing my Spanish daily, learning a bit each day, reinforcing past lessons as well. But, mi mesera no habla español, so we laughed about it and talked about Spanish. I ordered and worked in my bullet journal a bit while waiting for my food.
I chose poorly, I think. The chorizo omelette I ordered was just OK. I’ll have to try again, I suspect. And I will.
I drove back to the vet’s office to retrieve my Girl. (I don’t really think I own her; she’s not property.) I received instructions and walked my poor, groggy baby back to the rig. I lifted her into the backseat, thinking she would be more comfortable there. After trying to be up a bit, she melted into a pool of dog on the seat pan. She didn’t move all the way home.
I carried our stuff to the room and blocked open the door. After wriggling about a bit, I lifted her from the rig and carried her upstairs to her bed (my ratty old blanket). She didn’t move but went to sleep.
By evening she was more like herself. She doesn’t seem to be having much pain, for which I’m thankful. I gave her some food and her meds. Then we walked a little around the hotel and the park just across Stewart Street here in Carson City. We sat in the shade a long time, just taking in the outside time. She wanted to go chase squirrels, but I kept her on lead. She’s not ready to be rowdy and won’t be for a few more days.
Now I think it’s time to get out for a walk. She won’t walk off-lead this morning (and not for a few more days). But we both need exercise and outside air.
I’m thankful for her veterinarian. It was also good to see the little diner at the north end of Minden working again. It was a good day.